Recently, I attended an event held in my old high school. While walking the halls, my wife and I found a picture of 19 year-old me hanging on the wall. As my wife described the photo, I couldn’t help but wonder what my teenage self would think of who I’ve become.
In the past, I’ve had a lot of judgment and shame around who I was back then. However, this time I cut myself some slack and thought “I like that kid.”
Learning about trauma in recent years has helped me understand and have empathy for my younger self. Knowledge about trauma has also helped me realize why I felt stuck and couldn’t move forward in previous seasons of my life. Acknowledging my own traumatic experiences has been liberating.
In the personal development space, I hear much talk about how changing your thoughts can help you change your feelings, which leads to better results. I know that basic approach can work. However, now that I’m older and acknowledge that I’ve been through some hard stuff, traumatic challenges, I’ve found that that approach isn’t adequate for everyone all the time.
Trauma doesn’t only keep us stuck mentally; it also keeps us stuck in our bodies. The responses from our bodies to any range of triggers can tell the stories of past trauma. That’s why learning about a bottom-up, rather than a top-down, approach for trauma-informed coaching has been so beneficial. Not only do I bring this to my client sessions, but I apply it for myself, as well.
Take my recent walk down memory lane at my high school for example. With a more ‘bottom up’ approach, I was able to pause and have a positive connection with my younger self instead of reacting harshly by wondering what was wrong with me back then. I was able to revisit the past with understanding about what happened to me. (Side note: I highly recommend a great book entitled “What Happened to You?” by Dr. Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey that delves into this topic further.)
Believe it or not, but I only recently recognized that going blind at age 10 was a traumatic event. Yes⏤at the age of 10, I lost my limited vision and went completely blind. For most of my life, I tried to use religion, positive thinking, a dream, and alcohol to either make sense of or resist the truth. A couple years ago, I had a lightbulb moment. I finally admitted that going blind was a traumatic event. When I did so, I had a physiological response. Once I named it, I could claim it, and then began to change it. I call this process “trauma to truth to transformation.”
Are you ready to go from trauma to transformation? I would be honored to help you on the journey. Obviously, life coaching shouldn’t take the place of therapy if there’s more than mild to moderate symptoms of trauma. However, it can be an extremely helpful tool along with therapy to bring someone out of the past and back to the future.